EPISD discusses back-to-school plan

Local

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)– The El Paso Independent School District listened to parents and families expressing their concerns and questions about what the return of face-to-face instruction will look like with a pair of community meetings on Tuesday.

The district said its been receiving many questions from parents on what safety precautions will be in place and what the transition will be like as many students have not stepped foot in a classroom in person for over a year.

EPISD said because the Texas legislature did not approve funding for remote instruction for the 2021-22 school year, all students will return in person, five days a week.

“The biggest thing I think is we’ll spend the first few weeks really helping students transition students to being back on campus,” Melissa Martinez, a spokesperson with EPISD said.

Extracurricular activities will resume to include athletics, UIL, fine arts, clubs, and other activities. Regular P.E./recess will resume and cafeterias will reopen.

“Parents are anxious to know what it’s like getting back and we also understand everyone is anxious, they haven’t been in regular school for quite some time,” Martinez said. “There’s a lot of concern out there as to where their child may be academically and of course everyone is nervous about going back to regular settings.”

As far as health precautions, the district said it will continue following CDC recommendations. The health protocols will include:

  • Self-checks/monitoring strongly recommended
  • Masks no longer required
  • Physical distancing not required
  • Disinfection practices will continue
  • Water fountains and heavy-use equipment will be disinfected regularly

Daily temperature checks will not continue, but EPISD said it will continue contact tracing in the event a positive COVID-19 case is reported.

“If your child has any temperature or sign of illness please don’t send them to school, that’s going to be our biggest ask of parents this year,” Martinez said.

EPISD said it cannot require mandatory face masks since Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order preventing local governments, including school districts, from enforcing a mask mandate.

However, EPISD said it is strongly encouraged for students and staff to continue wearing masks if they want to. For those who require more PPE, the district will provide it for the students, such as desk dividers or face shields.

As for handling learning loss, Martinez said the district plans to see where students are at the beginning of the year since the STAAR test was optional last year.

“We’ll start with some assessments at the beginning of the year and there will be requirements for those that didn’t test last year,” Martinez said.

Students who did not take the STAAR or did not pass the test in 2020-21 are required to:

  • Be provided with no less than 30 tutoring hours total during the summer or subsequent school year. If provided during subsequent year, it should include instruction no less than once per week.
  • Utilize effective instructional materials designed for supplemental instruction
  • Receive instruction in a 1-on-1 or small group environment, with no more than three students in a small group
  • Receive instruction by an individual with training in aligned instructional materials and under the LEA’s oversight. Ideally, the same individual provides tutoring continuously for the student’s entire supplemental instructional period

“If they need some additional intervention the state has requirements so once they take the diagnostics, then additional steps fall into place,” Martinez said.

Martinez said the school district plans to keep desks 3-feet apart but all classes will resume to normal sizes of 22 students to one teacher.

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